Dr Sean Raymond has unveiled his theoretical model of a planetary system And he says it is possible a solar system could have up to 60 Earths
To create the model he considered the types of star, planet and orbit
The total system would be two binary stars with two planetary systems
One would have 36 habitable planets and the other would have 24
Such a system is not likely to be common but could exist, says Raymond
To date the most populated planetary system that we know of is that around the sun-like star HD 10180, which is thought to have nine planets in total.
The planets, however, are inhospitable to life as we know it, ranging from hot super-Earths to gas giants bigger than Neptune.
But could there exist a system with many, many more planets than this – with dozens of them habitable? That’s what one astronomer has calculated, and he says it’s theoretically possible a system could exist with 60 worlds life could exist on
Dr Sean Raymond, an astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France has revealed how to build a so-called ‘ultimate solar system’ at PlanetPlanet.
His self-appointed task was to build a planetary system with the most habitable worlds possible that could survive for billions of years.
To do so he considered the kind of star that would be needed, the types of planets and the logistics of the orbits.
‘With the ultimate Solar System I wanted to come up with a fun idea to get people thinking about this stuff,’ Raymond tells MailOnline in an email.
‘And everyone is interested in astronomy and planets so it’s a fun way to use your imagination.
‘I don’t claim to have the absolute best answer. Still, with just these relatively simple pieces it’s easy to build a very rich system!’
In choosing a star Raymond opted for one about half the size and mass of the sun at the hotter end of the ‘red dwarf’ spectrum.
This, he says, would create a system that will survive longer than our own with a fairly tight habitable zone, the area around a star within which it is neither too hot nor too cold for water, and possibly life, to form.
Next he considered what types of planets would create the most hospitable environments in a packed planetary system.
‘We want planets that are not too small, big, dry or wet,’ he writes.
‘We want planets with atmospheres, surfaces, oceans and continents.
‘This translates to worlds between about half and twice the size of Earth, with between ten times less and ten times more water than Earth.’